In the fall of 2012, Linda Heyn and her friend sat in a nigh deserted Waffle House off I-45 in Houston, Texas for a midnight meal. When two men entered the restaurant, guns in hand, and put everyone on the floor, Mrs. Heyn realized she needed to make a significant change in her life. One time playing the victim was enough; her handgun now accompanies her everywhere.
It does seem there’s something about Waffle House that draws violent criminals. Thankfully, there appears to be an armed customer present as well, more often than not. After reading her comment to the most recent Waffle House article on Liberty Nation, I reached out to Linda Heyn to get her story. It’s a story that, despite being six years old, was never reported. Of course, the establishment media wouldn’t be interested in a robbery thwarted by an armed customer with no fatalities, injuries, or even anything stolen.
We discussed the events of that night, the right to bear arms in general, and open vs concealed carry, among other things. We also explored what exactly it is that draws these people to that particular establishment. The best we could come up with is that it’s open all night, tends to be more or less deserted at certain times, and the abundance of windows makes it easy for those with criminal intent to scope out what they have to contend with before even entering the store.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Mrs. Heyn used to live in the area and never thought about how dangerous it could be. Most folk would acknowledge the constant possibility of violence, if asked, but we don’t tend to think about it unless something jars us out of our comfort zones and brings us face to face with the ugly truth. Attacks happen, and those who aren’t prepared are lucky if they survive. Oh sure, robberies and shootings occur, but they always happen to someone else – until you’re that someone. It’s an out of sight, out of mind problem.
Most violent attacks happen frighteningly quickly. The whole ordeal at the Waffle House – from the time the men entered the store to the time the police arrived – might have taken five minutes or ten. She said it felt like an eternity, but that was just the adrenaline; she knew it couldn’t have been very long. But from the moment she saw the assailants, Linda had mere moments before they were upon her.
A First-Hand Account
“I saw them come in. I saw what they were doing; I knew what they were doing. It was like a split-second, and one of them had me on the ground. He jerked me out of the booth and laid me on the ground and did the same thing to my friend. They had guns. There was a couple on the very far end, eating as well, and they did the same thing to them. Then they both jumped over the counter.”
In a matter of seconds Linda Heyn, her friend, and the couple at the other end of the store went from eating in peace to lying face down on the floor.
Once the few customers were taken care of, the men jumped over the counter, presumably to hit the register. Ironically, Mrs. Heyn had $400 cash sitting in her purse, right on top of her table – that’s most likely considerably more than was in the register at midnight.
Once the two assailants were focused on the register, the man at the other end of the restaurant acted:
“When they jumped over the counter, the gentleman on the other end stood up, pulled out his weapon, and started shooting.”
It was a harrowing experience, unlike anything she had experienced before, but Mrs. Heyn was able to get a laugh out of one thing – if only well after the fact. The very criminal who tried to rob the Waffle House manager was now cowering under the counter beside her! The other man ran out the back door and the armed customer fired after him but didn’t hit him. When he ran out of ammunition, the other would-be robber made a dash of his own out the back. The “good guy with a gun” reloaded, then ran out after them.
But Linda didn’t know that at the time.
“Bullets were flying over my head. I have never hugged the floor so close in my entire life.”
From her perspective at the time, two armed men had entered the store, put everyone on the ground, then jumped the counter and immediately started shooting. She just knew the gunmen were killing the employees and customers, and that the next bullet would be hers.
Lying on the floor, trying to become as much one with the tile as possible, Linda Heyn experienced a turning point in her life:
“I swore to God that I would never be laid in another nasty – excuse my language – ass floor ever again. And about two weeks later, I went down and got my concealed carry.”
Despite growing up in a family of Democrats, Linda bucked the traditions of her family and embraced conservatism. She had always been a pro-Second Amendment person; she just never really thought about the need for personal defense.
Although Texas allows open carry, you won’t see a big ‘ole hogleg strapped to Linda’s hip – that isn’t her style. “I still prefer to carry concealed,” she said. “I’m fixing to be 63 years old. I’m a little five-foot-tall woman, and I don’t want them to know that I’m carrying.”
Though she never had the chance to say so, Mrs. Heyn does appreciate the actions of her fellow diner that night. As far as she’s concerned, he’s a hero. “I would like to thank him,” she said. “I honestly believe he saved my life.”
As for whether she stuck with her decision to take her own security firmly in hand, she assured me she’s still packing: “I just renewed my concealed carry for another five years, and you won’t catch me being a victim again.”